Designing time: the design and use of Nineteenth-Century transport timetables

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This article examines how nineteenth-century transport timetables were designed, understood and used. It examines changes in timetable design during the nineteenth century, as railway timetables in particular had to convey more and more complex information. I argue that timetables reflected societal notions of time and helped to construct new understandings of space; yet, the times and spaces they propagated were only some of those circulating in the nineteenth century. I demonstrate that the timetable is an item through which it is possible to show how design—in this instance, of information—pervaded day-to-day life. I show that the design of timetables was fundamental to passengers’ ability (or inability) to find the information they required. The article therefore analyses a range of passenger responses to timetables, from comments about incomprehensibility to attempts to make timetables more relevant to their individual needs. This focus highlights the significance of design in its social context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-113
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Design History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


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